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Risen. Luke 24:1-12.
April 1, 2018

Today is the strangest day on the calendar for two particular reasons. A common association with April 1stis for pranks. Those who participate in “April Fools Day” pranks attempt to deceive for humor. A common objection to Christianity is that this is just a celebration for fools. Some claim that Jesus’ disciples stole His body. Besides the fact that people trying to deceive, will not willing die for a lie, the Romans guarded the tomb and every opponent of Christianity merely had to produce the body to discredit the claims of the followers of Christ.


The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most significant event in history. Central to God’s redemptive plan and the foundation of the gospel, the resurrection is the essential truth apart from which there is no Christianity. Paul put it bluntly in 1 Corinthians 15:17: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” The resurrection is not the epilogue to the story of Christ’s life; it is its triumphant goal, objective, and purpose. The resurrection vindicates the hope of the gospel. The good news of salvation is not just that believers might experience forgiveness of sin, but rather that having been forgiven, they will live forever in the bliss of heaven in glorified, physical, resurrected bodies. The message of the gospel is not that people can be delivered from their troubles in this life. Nor does it promise that they will live on in the sense of their continuing influence, or that Christ merely lives on in His continuing influence, or in some nebulous spiritual form. The Christian message is that Jesus Christ rose from the grave in a glorified, physical body, and that believers who repent of their sins, and trust in the work of Christ on their behalf one day will rise with a body like His glorified body (1 John 3:2).


The church has always understood the importance of the resurrection. Throughout its history it has met on Sunday, commemorating Jesus rising. The church does not meet on Friday, because Today is the interpretation and validation of Good Friday. The resurrection is the divine vindication of the work that Jesus did on the cross. Apart from the resurrection the cross means nothing. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He affirmed that He had indeed borne believers sins in His own body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24), and thereby propitiated or satisfied the justice of God (Rom. 4:25). The resurrection was not created by the church; rather, the church was created by the resurrection (Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke (p. 606). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.).


The significance of the “Risen” Christ is clearly proclaimed in Luke 24:1-12 as seen by: 1) The Empty Tomb (Luke 24:1–3), 2) The Angelic Messengers (Luke 24:4–7), 3) The Witness of the Women (Luke 24:8–10), and 4) The Unbelieving Disciples (Luke 24:11–12).


1)      The Empty Tomb (Luke 24:1–3)

Luke 24:1–3But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (ESV)

The resurrection took place on the first day of the week in fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction that He would be “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:40; cf. 27:63; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33–34). The Jewish people had no names for the days of the week, but numbered them in relation to the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. The first day, therefore, was Sunday, the day after the Sabbath. The Saturday that Jesus’ body was in the tomb was the last official Sabbath (Col. 2:16–17).


Please turn to Acts 20 (p.929)


Coming to corporate worship can be intimidating. There may be strange sounding prayers, music you are not familiar with, terms mentioned that don’t seem readily understandable and, if you don’t directly engage with what is presented, it may tire you out. That’s not unusual. Notice this account of worship in Acts 20

Acts 20:7-12 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. 12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted. (ESV)

  • I don’t bring this story up to prepare you to stay until tomorrow. It’s a good thing that we also don’t have a third floor. Although it’s a good warning that it can be a dangerous thing to sleep in corporate worship. Some crucial bits of information can be lost in such a dramatic story. What you see here, is how the resurrection changes everything. No longer is a Saturday sabbath the practice of the early believers. The church, meets on Sunday, in honor and remembrance of the Lord’s resurrection (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10).


The women went/came to the tomb taking/bringing the spices which they had prepared on Friday after watching Joseph and Nicodemus prepare Jesus’ body and then place it in the tomb (Luke 23:55–56). They intended to return after the Sabbath to finish preparing the Lord’s body for burial. According to ancient custom, the women should have been able to anoint the body as long as they did not remove it. Luke notes that they arrived at early dawn; Matthew says: “as it began to dawn” (Matt. 28:1); and Markwhen the sun had risen” (Mark 16:2). The varying terminology reflects the different ways the writers described the same time of day; early dawn was the time when it began to dawn because the sun had just risen. John notes that Mary Magdalene arrived earlierwhile it was still dark” (John 20:1). Evidently all the women set out just before dawn while it was still dark, but Mary got to the tomb ahead of the others. Seeing that the stone had been removed, she assumed the worst—that grave robbers had broken into the tomb and stolen Jesus’ body. She immediately left to report the shocking news to Peter and John (v. 2), who ran to the tomb to investigate (vv. 3–8). Overcome with grief, Mary returned to the tomb, but by the time she got there, the two disciples and the other women had come and gone. Since she did not cross paths with either group, she did not know about the angels (Luke 24:4–7). The accounts (of the Gospel writers) complement one another and were left distinct for a reasonto present the resurrection from many distinct angles (Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51–24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1888). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.).

  • Most of the problems that people have in understanding the resurrection are based on assumptions. We come to conclusions on the way things are on how we normally view them. But the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a once in time event, foretold and collaborated by multiple independent sources.


Now the other women arrived at the tomb as verse 2 records, where to their amazement, they unexpectedly found the stone rolled away from the tomb. We get the English word “memorial” from this Greek word for tomb.( Utley, R. J. (2004). The Gospel according to Luke (Vol. Volume 3A, Lk 24:1). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.) The environment that we have here involves a cavelike tomb with a large wheel-like stone that was rolled down a channel to cover the tomb opening.( Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 604). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)  The tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimarhea, and it was situated in a garden close by Calvary. The traditional site (now the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) is within the present walls of Jerusalem, although in the time of Jesus it was probably outside the city (Wilcock, M. (1979). The Savior of the world: the message of Luke’s gospel (p. 206). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.).


The stone was far too heavy for them to maneuver, and the women had discussed the problem of how to move it while on their way to the tomb (Mark 16:3). They did not know of the guard detachment, which also would have prevented them from entering the tomb. It had been posted on Saturday (Matt. 27:62–66), when they were home observing the Sabbath. The guards, terrified by the earthquake and the appearance of the angels, had been rendered unconscious (Matt. 28:4). When they came to their senses they fled, and some reported what had happened to the Jewish leaders (v. 11), who initiated a cover-up (vv. 12–15). The stone was not rolled away to let the Lord Jesus out but to let them in. (McGee, J. V. (1991). Thru the Bible commentary: The Gospels (Luke) (electronic ed., Vol. 37, p. 293). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)


With no stone or soldiers to hinder them, the women, according to verse 3 went inside the tomb, but when they went in/entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus (cf. Acts 2:36). The soldiers knew the tomb was empty, or they would still have been there guarding it. The Jewish leaders knew that the tomb was empty, or they would not have invented a false story to explain why it was empty. Mary knew the tomb was empty, or she would not have reported to Peter and John that it was. Peter and John also knew firsthand that the body of Jesus was not in the tomb. There is no explanation for the empty tomb other than that it was empty because Jesus had risen from the dead.


Poem: The resurrection of Jesus marks a new beginning in the history of the world. Just as the original act of creation began the first day of the week, so on (Resurrection Sunday) there is the dawn of a new day. Sin, Satan, death, and hell are vanquished! The body of believers continue to celebrate this decisive event each first day of the week. Sunday after Sunday, the words of Jesus are remembered; his body and blood is shared; his praises are sung. An early Latin hymn says it well: “Welcome, happy morning!” Age to age shall say; “Hell today is vanquished; Heav’n is won today!” Lo, the Dead is living, God forevermore! Him, their true Creator, All his works adore. “Welcome, happy morning!” Age to age shall say; “Hell today is vanquished; Heav’n is won today!” (Christian Worship 163:1 as quoted in Prange, V. H. (1988). Luke (pp. 257–258). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Pub. House.)


The significance of the “Risen” Christ is clearly proclaimed in Luke 24:1-12 as seen by:

2)   The Angelic Messengers (Luke 24:4–7)

Luke 24:4–7While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”(ESV)


The women were standing in or just outside the tomb, shocked and perplexed because the body of Jesus was gone. Suddenly, they went from being puzzled to being terrified. As they stood there in the light of dawn trying to figure out what could have happened to the corpse, two men stood by/near them in dazzling apparel/clothing. Matthew (28:2) and John (20:12) identify them as angels, appearing in human form (cf. Gen. 18:2; 19:1–5; Dan. 10:16). Although there were two of them (perhaps as witnesses; cf. Deut. 19:15), only one spoke. Their dazzling apparel/clothing (cf. Matt. 17:2; Acts 1:10; Rev. 19:14) identified them as divine messengers.

  • For many of us, living in such a scientific age, the reality of the Resurrection can be perplexing, just as it was for the original witnesses. The beauty of God’s revelation, and the overwhelming confirming attestation, is that God wants you to take your questions, and your doubts to Him. The truth of the resurrection is not beyond inquiry. The more we dig into the information, the more confirming evidence we will find.


Understandably, as verse 5 records, the women were frightened/terrified and bowed their faces to the ground (cf. Luke 1:12; 2:9; Dan. 8:15–18; 10:9; Matt. 28:2–4; Acts 10:3–4; Rev. 22:8). In a mild rebuke the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One, the one who is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), the one over whom death no longer is master (Rom. 6:9), the one who was dead, but now is alive forevermore (Rev. 1:18) among the dead?” This angelic question is the first announcement that Jesus was alive. God is not the God of the dead but of the living! That is, in spite of their devout intentions in coming to anoint Jesus’ body, these women have failed to grasp Jesus’ message about the resurrection and, thus, have not taken with appropriate gravity the power of God (Green, J. B. (1997). The Gospel of Luke (pp. 837–838). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).

  • People often look for God among the dead. They study the Bible as a mere historical document and go to church as if going to a memorial service. But Jesus is not among the dead—he lives!Do you look for Jesus among the living? Do you expect him to be active in the world and in the church? Look for signs of his powerthey are all around you (Barton, B. B., Veerman, D., Taylor, L. C., & Osborne, G. R. (1997). Luke (p. 553). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.).


The angels went on to say in verse 6, “He is not here, but has risen” (lit., “been raised”; the Greek verb is in the passive voice [cf. Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 34, 37; Rom. 4:24–25; 6:4, 9; 7:4; 8:11, 34; 10:9; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:4, 12–20; 2 Cor. 4:14; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 Peter 1:21]). The earliest creed of the Christian Church was simply ‘He is Risen,’ and there is a sense in which the entire impact of Christianity stands or falls with the truth of this message. (Sproul, R. C. (1999). A Walk with God: An Exposition of Luke (p. 417). Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications.)


Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”(Matt. 16:21; 17:22–23; 20:17–19; 26:2; 27:63). Since Jesus had predicted His resurrection, they should have been expecting it. But they obviously did not, since they brought spices with which to anoint His dead body. “To remember” consists of more than cognitive recall. “To rememberincludes as well the nuance of understanding or insight, and is the threshold of response (appropriate to) what is recalled. (Green, J. B. (1997). The Gospel of Luke (p. 838). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)


Please turn to Romans 6 (p.942)


For most of our lives, we get what we expect. The reason for this is that we make choices on assumptions. For those who come here today out of duty, habit or guilt, they most likely will leave with a familiar story. But what about if we approach this Resurrection Sunday expecting to be changed?

Paul Explained the change that believers experience because of the resurrection of Christ:

Romans 6:5–11 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

  • People are naturally born into the world as sinners, with the result that their bodies were ruled by sin. Sin’s rule, however, was broken when Christians died with Christ, and therefore they are no longer enslaved to sin. Through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, believers are free from the penalty of sin. Through growing in holiness, we are progressively free from the power of sin and looking forward to glorification, we look forward to being free from the presence of sin. This is all accomplished because of the resurrection of Christ. His resurrection demonstrates that he has defeated both sin and death.( Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2167). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.)

Illustration: John G. Paton, a nineteenth-century missionary to the South Seas, met opposition to leaving his home in Scotland and going to preach to the cannibalistic peoples of the New Hebrides Islands. A well-meaning church member moaned to him, “The cannibals, the cannibals! You will be eaten by the cannibals!” Without hesitation, Paton replied, “I confess to you that if I can live and die serving my Lord Jesus Christ, it makes no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; for in that Great Day of Resurrection, my body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer!” (Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching (p. 303). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.)


The significance of the “Risen” Christ is clearly proclaimed in Luke 24:1-12 as seen by:

3)   The Witness of the Women (Luke 24:8–10)

Luke 24:8–10And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, (ESV)

After the angels’ reminder, the women remembered the words Jesus spoke concerning His rising. As they left the tomb in verse 9 to report all these things to the eleven and to all the rest, the magnitude of what they had just experienced and heard dawned on them, and “they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples” (Matt. 28:8). “Come and see, go and tell!” is the (Resurrection) mandate for the church.( Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 278). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)


Please turn to John 20 (p.906)


That the resurrected Christ appeared first to women, elevated women, who held an inferior position in Jewish society. It was a testimony to their love, devotion, and courage. They had witnessed His death at Calvary and His burial, and had seen the empty tomb. John is the only disciple recorded to have been at the cross, but he did not witness the burial; Joseph and Nicodemus buried the Lord’s body, but they did not see the empty tomb. Now, with His appearance to the women, the evidence was complete, and only the women were eyewitnesses to the entire sequence of events. Luke may have specifically named three of them in verse 10, Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James, again in light of the law’s requirement that “on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed” (Deut. 19:15). At first glance Mary Magdalene seems out of place in the group of eyewitnesses. According to John 20, we see how see why she is numbered among the eyewitnesses:

John 20:1-2Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

  • She had seen that the Lord’s body was not in the tomb, jumped to the erroneous conclusion that grave robbers had taken it, and ran back to report her conclusion to Peter and John. Thus, she was not at the tomb with the other women. But her story does not end there. At some point she decided to go back to the tomb. Pick up the story in verse 11:

John 20:11-1811 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. (ESV)

  • Since she had the same experience as the other women of seeing the risen Christ, Luke rightly included her with them.
  • Mary Magdalene missed the evidence of the resurrection and the person of the risen Jesus right before her. Grave robbers don’t unwrap a body.  Christ’s physical witness to her and hundreds more, is living proof of the life changing reality of the resurrection. One of the main proofs that the resurrection story is credible is realization that the first-century church would never have created a story whose main first witnesses were women (Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke (p. 607). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.)


Illustration: This is the way to respond to the resurrection (as these women did), by remembering what Jesus said, believing what Jesus did, and then telling other people about it. We are called to be showers and tellers of the resurrection. Another word for this is evangelism. We do not seek to compel anyone to become a Christian by force, but we do announce the saving message that Jesus died and rose again, and that simply by believing in him anyone may have eternal life. But we do need to make this announcement! It is only by gospel words that anyone ever comes to faith in Jesus Christ. In a little booklet called A Shy Person’s Guide to the Practice of Evangelism, Steven Bonsey writes,Let’s pretend that you are someone who might be willing, in theory, at some point, possibly, to consider maybe doing something that, while not ‘evangelism’-type evangelism, still could be in some way construed as a sort of sharing of hope. Kind of.” Obviously, Bonsey is having a little fun at the expense of those of us who are timid in our evangelism. But even if we do not always feel comfortable talking to other people about Jesus, we should follow the example of the women at the empty tomb. Using simple words, they told their friends about Jesus and the resurrection. (Ryken, P. G. (2009). Luke. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (Vol. 2, pp. 637–638). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.)


The significance of the “Risen” Christ is clearly proclaimed in Luke 24:1-12 as seen by:

4) The Unbelieving Disciples (Luke 24:11–12)

Luke 24:11–1211 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. (ESV)

Sadly, but predictably, the disciples dismissed the women’s testimony as an idle tale/nonsense, mere folly. No matter that the women’s stories were identical, indicating that they all saw and experienced the same reality. No matter that their story had cohesion, was consistent, and provided details for which there was no other plausible explanation. The disciples thought the whole thing was absurd, and they would not believe them (cf. Luke 24:23–25). In fact the Greek word for “idle tale(l─ôros)is applied in medicinal language to the wild talk of the sick in delirium.”( Ryken, P. G. (2009). Luke. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (Vol. 2, p. 638). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.)

  • The question for the skeptic this morning is: How much information would it take for you to believe that Christ rose from the dead? Do you automatically reject that which does not presently fit your worldview? Or, have you just failed to really examine the multitude of divergent witnesses and their collaborative evidential testimony?


In the resurrection account, Luke now adds as a side note Peter’s visit to the tomb with John, which happened before the other women and Mary Magdalene returned. Along with John, verse 12 concludes with the account that Peter rose/got up and ran to the tomb after Mary Magdalene’s initial report. John outran him and got there first, but did not go inside. Peter arrived and, stooping and looking in (John 20:6 adds that he then entered the tomb), he saw the linen cloths/wrappings by themselves. Puzzled and not yet sure what to make of it, he went home, marveling at what had happened. The Greek word here translated as “marveling/wondering” indicates that Peter is filled with awe, astonishment, and surprise. He senses that a miracle has taken place. (Prange, V. H. (1988). Luke (p. 256). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Pub. House.)

  • This gives us reason to hope that many of the people we love and pray for will come to Christ. Like the disciples, they may still come through their unbelief and into faith in Jesus Christ. This also encourages us in our doubts. If we are not yet sure that Jesus rose from the dead, we can still hope that God will grant us the gift of faith so that we may believe in Jesus and be saved (Ryken, P. G. (2009). Luke. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (Vol. 2, p. 639). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.).


Please turn to Philippians 2 (p.980)


The New Testament repeatedly affirms that God raised Jesus from the dead. To deny the resurrection, therefore, is not only to reject the compelling historical facts, but also to deny the testimony of the New Testament. But if the resurrection did take place as the overwhelming evidence indicates, then the Bible is true, Jesus is Lord, and every person is accountable to Him. This is how Paul explained all our obligation to this fact:

Philippians 2:5–11 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (ESV)


Please don’t leave here today with unanswered questions. What a tragedy it would be to be confronted with the reality of the resurrected Christ, and not understand how the pieces fit together. The resurrection is the confirming of all the pieces. Yet, we must come away with more than an understanding of the facts; which remove intellectual barriers. We must come away with more than experiential feelings, which remove emotive barriers. Only faith in the resurrection, “[confessing] with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and [believing] in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,” will result in salvation, “for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Rom. 10:9–10). Faith, takes the facts of the resurrection, the personal feeling of the realization that this enables my life, and places personal trust that Christ did this for me. We can have assurance of our resurrection from the dead because of His resurrection from the dead.


(Format Note: Outline & some base commentary from MacArthur, J. (2014). Luke 18–24 (pp. 405–415). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.)


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